SUDAN: Bishop says stop the fighting in Blue Nile
By John Pontifex
29 September 2011
An urgent plea for peace in Sudan has come from a leading bishop amid reports that within one month 25,000 people have fled to Ethiopia to escape the fighting.
Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum described how in Sudan’s Blue Nile State, on the border with South Sudan, entire villages and towns lay virtually deserted after people fled aerial bombardments.
Amid no sign of an end to the fighting between Government of Sudan armed forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), Bishop Adwok stressed the scale of the humanitarian crisis prompted by the clashes which began almost a month ago.
Bishop Adwok told Aid to the Church in Need: “People are having to walk a long way to find safety. The only things they have are what they can carry.
“We need to pray for peace. We need to appeal for peace.”
Bishop Adwok’s comments come after the UN estimated that in September alone 25,000 Sudanese crossed the border into Ethiopia.
A number of refugees arriving in Ethiopia are from Sudan’s South Kordofan State, again on the border with South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands have been displaced as a result of violence dating back to June.
With hostilities still continuing in both Blue Nile State and South Kordofan, the UN expects refugee numbers to continue rising.
Bishop Adwok is coordinating emergency aid for people fleeing Blue Nile State capital, Damazin.
Working with priests and catechists in the region, Aid to the Church in Need is providing food, blankets, medicine and mosquito nets.
Meanwhile the UN is masterminding a massive emergency relief operation in Ethiopia.
Bishop Adwok stressed the problems involved in stepping up the relief work.
He said: “Reaching the displaced people is problematic because of the terrain and the difficulty of crossing the [Blue Nile] river. The whole area is occupied by armed forces.”
Bishop Adwok reported how a catechist had returned to the parish compound in Damazin and found the city relatively calm but with tension in outlying villages.
“There is a lot of aerial bombardment going on which is taking place outside the main towns,” he said.
The conflict in Blue Nile State and South Kordofan follows a breakdown in relations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement which held local political control, reporting to their one-time opponents, the Khartoum-based regime.
In early September Sudan president Omar al-Bashir sacked Blue Nile State governor Malik Aggar, the SPLM-N’s chairman and shut down the SPLM-N’s offices in the country.